Tips to Save Your Relationship: Be Smarter than your Smart Phone

How can you save your relationship from constant phone use? Free tips for couples in our tech saturated world

Recently, a short, yet very powerful video called “Look Up” appeared and quickly spread through Facebook, blogs, list serves, and emails. It is a thought-provoking video about how cell phones, internet access and social media impact our lives.

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Tips to save your relationship from your smart phone

“Look Up” beautifully presents how social media can create a damaging illusion of constant connection to hundreds of “friends” and yet, in reality, we can be and feel very disconnected and lonely.  Most importantly, by burying our noses in our phones and computers, we miss opportunities for true connection with the people who surround us.

As a marriage and family therapist trained in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Turk’s video spoke to me on many different levels.  EFT is a model based in attachment theory, which understands that people need a lifetime of safe and meaningful connections with others in order to survive and thrive.

Face to Face Connection–Essential to our Relationships & Health

We are wired to connect—to have important, safe, and responsive relationships in our lives. Research has shown that if we fail to have these types of relationships, we are more prone to get sick, feel depressed, be isolated and even die younger!

Growing up in Poland, I remember having plenty of opportunities to connect with people. In fact, a simple trip to a nearby grocery store could result in a couple of “mini counseling sessions.” In meeting a friend or a neighbor, I could take a risk and share the truth about my day; and receive empathy and encouragement in response.

Studies have shown that these types of interactions are essential to our well-being.  A text, email or IM chat is not the same, on a brain level, as an in-person interaction between two people.  We hunger for the real thing.  Our health depends on it.

Sadly, in our therapy offices, we have seen more and more clients complain of feeling lonely despite having families and friends. Perhaps living in this time where we are at risk of social media replacing those real interactions, we accidentally slip into neglecting the very real relationships that we care about the most.

It is almost as if we forget how to stop and stare in each other eyes, hold hands, and enjoy the simple moments with our kids or spouses.

Simple tips to save your relationship from your “smart phone”

Being just as guilty of falling into the false trap of social media, I want to encourage all of us to make a commitment to our relationships by being very mindful of how much electronics we allow at the dinner table, in the bedroom, and during family trips. I want to propose the crazy idea of forgetting to take our phones and enjoying more moments with our loved ones.

What if we expressed some of our softer and vulnerable emotions—the ones that we sometimes feel safer expressing through text messages—directly with our partners or kids? What if, instead of checking our emails before we go to sleep, we share with our spouse ways they positively impacted us today. Who knows, maybe by taking a “mini vacation” from technology we can buy ourselves a free “mini counseling session” with our partner or a friend.

Emotionally Focused Therapy–Helping Couples Connect and Find Closeness

Contact Thrive Counseling at 303-513-8975 if you would like to learn more tips to save your relationship from your smart phone and how EFT helps couples and families create real, close, and meaningful relationships. Schedule your Greenwood Village couples counseling session here:  Schedule Appointment

This is a guest post written by Marta Kem, Westminster, CO Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

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About the Author

Denver Tech Center Counselors specializing in Couples Therapy, Marriage Counseling, Pre-Marital Counseling, and Individual Therapy for Relationship Issues.

5 Comments

  1. Allison Rimland, LPC Says :

    Posted on May 16, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Thanks to Marta Kem, Denver Marriage and Family Therapist for this great article. Cell phone use is so habitual, isn’t it? Easy to find myself mindlessly using it for nothing important while missing out on real life with kids, husband and friends.

    Thanks to Julie Hanks for the inspiration on her blog challenge:
    http://www.juliehanks.com/2013/06/10/therapist-blog-challenge-7-invite-a-guest-blogger/

  2. Marta Says :

    Posted on May 18, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    You are so welcome Allison! I am happy to admit that since I wrote this article, I “forgot” my cell phone at least three times, and as a consequence of that, I had an opportunity to learn something new about my husband.

    • Allison Rimland, LPC Says :

      Posted on May 20, 2014 at 3:20 am

      I love that – think I’ll “forget” my cell phone some too!

      Read something recently about how as a parent, it’s important not to multitask with kids around when it comes to social media. Work is work, and sometimes we can’t get around that, but good to be mindful there too. But with social media – ask yourself if you’d feel comfortable with your future teen “multitasking” with you or other close friends and family around in the same way we can do to them. Chances are – we would’t like it. Not. At. All.

  3. Fallon

    Posted on September 11, 2014 at 1:59 am

    Hi Marta . I really enjoyed reading this and i loved this statement. “Sadly, in my therapy office, I have seen more and more clients complain of feeling lonely despite having families and friends. Perhaps living in this time where we are at risk of social media replacing those real interactions, we accidentally slip into neglecting the very real relationships that we care about the most: Look forward to your next post.

    • Allison Rimland, LPC Says :

      Posted on October 1, 2015 at 10:27 pm

      Thanks for stopping in, Fallon. It’s true. We can feel connected via our phones, but it can actually cause immense disconnection.

      I read recently about the idea that our kids are not given the benefit of seeing what we are doing, causing a double disconnect. Unlike activities like reading a book or newspaper, or checking the weather on TV or verifying a date in a paper calendar, our kids cannot see what we are doing on our phones.

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